By: Carol Trudell
Since the COVID-19 economic shutdown, national unemployment has nearly doubled to a shocking 13%. Many Canadians have been fired and left without a job. If you have been one of the unlucky people who have lost their job, understanding the law and claiming your rights it’s an essential part of a smooth transition into a new job. Doing so is as easy as the following 6 steps!
Step 1: Document the Occurrence
If you are fired you should do everything possible to document the occurrence. This could include saving online correspondence, filing an incident report at work, or writing down your own notes about your employer’s explanation for your firing. This information could be legally relevant as there are some grounds for which your employer cannot fire you in Ontario, dependent on your employment contract or sector. Also, an individual cannot be fired on grounds which constitute discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code such as sexuality, age, or race. If your employer gives you no reasoning as to why you were fired, documenting the date and time of the occurrence and saving your termination notice, if it is in writing, is still relevant.
Step 2: Apply for Employment Insurance (EI)
Applying for EI is both financially and legally beneficial if you have been fired. Not only will you receive some income after being fired but, you will demonstrate you have attempted to meet the legal duty to mitigate financial losses from being fired. The Government of Canada recommends applying for EI as soon as possible once you have been fired. Legally, you can take up to four weeks to apply which may be necessary as you gather the required documentation. Thankfully, you can conveniently apply online and your documentation of the occurrence can supplement the required supporting documentation.
Step 3: Review your Severance Package
If you were fired without cause, you are entitled to a severance package. The severance package is negotiable but a fair package will meet certain legal terms based on your age, length of employment, salary, character of employment, and the success or ease of a job search in your field. In reviewing your severance package you can use myopencourt.org to help you in evaluating whether or not your package is fair. If the package is unfair, our Termination Compensation Tool can determine how much pay you are owed and connect you with an available employment lawyer for free!
Step 4: Connecting with a Lawyer
If your severance package is unfair, you should seek legal advice. If you were not offered a severance package, there is even more reason to consult a lawyer because in most cases you are entitled to one legally. Myopencourt.org can connect you with an employment lawyer who can guide you through the process of challenging or re-negotiating your severance package. There are also law offices which offer free employment law consultations. Dutton Law actually offers them the same day – there is nothing to lose!
Being fired is a difficult experience for anyone. Having a lawyer to calmly advocate your concerns who has an understanding of relevant rules and procedures will reduce your stress and improve your outcome.
Step 5: Moving Forward
After contacting a lawyer, you should begin a job search. If you are able to get a reference from your former job, take advantage. You are not legally entitled to a reference but, are able to ask colleagues rather than your boss if you feel more comfortable with that. In addition to collecting references, begin to look for other opportunities in your field. Gather your key contacts, reach out, look for other opportunities on LinkedIn and other job sites, and remain open to networking, particularly over Zoom to save gas money.
Step 6: Considering Outplacement
If you have exhausted your networks or are looking to resume employment quickly, an outplacement agency can be of help. Outplacement personnel are experienced and come with their own vast network to help you find work quickly. The Government of Canada website also has a helpful job bank to aid your search.
Getting fired is never easy. Bills will continue to accumulate and job searching, particularly as the economy recovers from COVID-19, may be difficult. Following these steps and using tools such as myopencourt.org can reduce stress as you look for your next great opportunity. Finally, since COVID-19 many excellent professional development opportunities and courses have become available online. Take advantage of this during your time off!